Update: Watch the second leg clash between Aizawl FC and East Bengal, March 12, on the official I-League website.
Original story: Indian football giants East Bengal take on newcomers Aizawl FC in their sixth match of the I-League this season, and Chennaiyin FC hotshot Bernard Mendy will be seen in action for the Red-and-Golds for the first time at the Barasat Stadium in West Bengal on Friday.
East Bengal are currently fourth in the table with two wins, two draws and a loss, while Aizawl FC are seventh with three losses, a win and a draw.
The visitors look the underdogs on paper, but having said that, their 12th man -- the fans -- who have made plenty of the right noises with their constant support, will be another key to give wind beneath Aizawl FC's wings.
Being the first Mizoram club ever to play in the I-League, and also with the proximity of Aizawl with West Bengal, the Aizawl FC supporters are expected to turn up in numbers. Both East Bengal and Aizawl FC lost their last I-League match, against Bengaluru FC and Sporting Clube de Goa respectively.
However, if the Red-and-Golds do manage to bag all three points, they will move to the second spot in the table and push archrivals Mohun Bagan a place down. Giving his thoughts ahead of the match, East Bengal coach Biswajit Bhattacharya said that their opponents cannot be taken lightly.
"No match is easy for us. We face Aizawl and it will be tough but we have to perform well to come back from the loss [against Bengaluru FC]," Bhattacharya was quoted by Goal ahead of the match. "Aizawl are a very good team. They attack through the wings and fight throughout the match."
Alfred Jaryan has been consistent in the attacking front for Aizawl FC, and the Liberian will be expected to partner Atsushi Yonezawa up front, with Yuta Kinowaki taking up a key role in midfield.
"It's our second visit to Kolkata and we're really looking forward for a better performance this time," Manuel Fraile, head coach of Aizawl FC, was quoted by the official I-League site. "It'll be another tough task and we are going to take them on."
For East Bengal, ISL star Bernard Mendy, set for his I-League debut, is expected to take a holding midfield or wingback role with Arnab Mondal and Bello Rasaq consistent in the heart of the defence. And Bhattacharya has to take a decision whether to field Do Dong-hyun or Ranti Martins as the third foreigner in the game.
Only three foreigners can take the field at the same time for a team in the I-League.
Where to watch live
East Bengal vs Aizawl FC is scheduled to kick-off at 4:30 pm IST (4 pm PST, 11 am GMT, 6 am EST) on Friday, 5 February.
In India (and the rest of the Asian subcontinent), viewers can catch the game on Ten Action. Online streaming will be available on tensports.com.
Viewers in Germany, Austria, Russia, Switzerland and Gerogia can catch up with the game with online streaming will be available on LAOLA1.
Other countries can follow the I-League live scores on the I-League twitter handle.